Anatomy is not Destiny

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Between the two of us we cover a lot of ground in the creative industry. Where we lack the knowledge and contextual understanding to do justice to providing meaningful coverage and insight, we research and other times we seek help.  For this post, we drew on the expertise and knowledge of our friend Jaimee Stockman Young – an  Honours student at the Elam School of Fine Arts and gallery coordinator at the George Fraser and Project Space galleries. Jaimee is active in the queer community, working in a creative directorial capacity for a number of different organisations both in the Queer community and the wider creative industries. Click on any of the photos to see more.

Exploring the interwoven space between fashion and queerness, Chris Lorimer’s Anatomy is not Destiny has brought together 10 New Zealand artists to explore the role that art and fashion play in representing queer narratives and the performativity of a queer self.  Running in conjunction with Auckland’s Pride 2014, the Exhibition presents a much-needed area of curatorial focus and representation, showcasing just the surface of the vast array of queer creative talent and practice in our community.

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Centering itself around the idea that Fashion, as a very broad term, has no place for normative notions of identity; Anatomy is not Destiny plays with the idea that we are not tied to the biology of our bodies but how we exhibit our being.  Recurring themes of the body, presentation, and identity prevail, create a space to reframe and reconsider the dominant notions of sexuality and gender, bringing together the vocabulary of Queerness and the inner dialogue of Fashion into conversation around this, not necessarily groundbreaking but all together important, concept.

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The strength of this exhibition lies in the works that seek to undo or question the transitional space between our identities, the works where identity is personal and fluid: a trajectory, instead of a static definite, and the works that look forward, and step outside of the already established Western queer rhetoric.

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Richard Malloy’s work Red Dress utilizes sculptural conventions and symbolism of materials used to compose a metaphorical representation of a fashion object. Within the context of this exhibition this work seems to aim to bastardize the nature of this object, to break it apart its apparent “feminine” history and use it as a tool to aggressively navigate a conversation of identity. Clothing, colour, the explicitly transitional nature of the architecture, the face bound into plastic, all point to signifying some illusive personal history or identity, an identity which is at times transparent, exposed, internal/external, precarious and cut open.

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Shigeyuki Kihara’s My Samoan Girl and its pseudo-ethnographic framing of this image reconstructs and reframes the colonial gaze, using this environment to explore Kihara’s personal relationship to gender and anatomy, this image and this action undermines our Western-centric expectations and critiques the contemporary Queer rhetoric we engage in.  The existence of this critique in the midst of this show exemplifies the need for representation of non-western queer histories and identities in a contemporary queer context.

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A perfect example of the Fashion/Art crossover, Aych McArdle’s Skin/Shell series uses materials and tactile symbols to point to ideas of anatomy, skin, exterior appearance and identity. McArdle has created these encasements, almost a skin that had been shed and discarded, that play on the abject nature of bodies themselves and our experiences within them. These encasements, embellished with fluerettes and sparkles, seem to represent the manner in which we can present, and represent ourselves endlessly, but also the fragility of that presentation. These genderless cases, adorned with what could be perceived as feminine decorations, all original in their construction, show an element of the uniqueness and the absence of any limitations of Queerness.

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Blanche,  Peter, Blanche, a triptych of photography from Lula Cuccihara, is a simple but interpersonal documentation of the transitory nature of how one can present themselves. This work doesn’t strive to be complex; it is complex by its very nature. The photographers lens generously, yet truthfully documenting the different ways in which one person choses to exist, to present and be visible. The delicacy taken shows the consideration for the history and context of this overarching discussion of Queerness.

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The show overall is an important and interesting selection of work, and Auckland would greatly profit from the continuation of shows and the active representation of practices such as this, outside of the context of Pride. The last day for viewing is tomorrow Sunday the 23rd, the show is open 10-4 in Shop 16, St. Kevin’s Arcade, 179-183 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland.

Contributors – Lula Cucchiara, Russ Flatt, Young Sun Han, Geoffrey Heath, Shigeyuki Kihara, Aych McArdle, Richard Maloy, Richard Orjis, Alex Plumb, David K. Shields

– Jaimee Young and Steven Park.

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Author: Steven Park

I live in Auckland and am currently doing my Honours in Fine Arts at Elam. I run a design label called "6x4", where I make clothing, furniture, home-ware and other exciting things. Say hello if you see me walking around! Read More

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